Congratulations, Mr. Taubes

946452_82008204In a well-written and lucid presentation, Gary Taubes takes on the confusion inherent in the current status of nutrition research. He explains why, after literally thousands of studies, we still don t understand exactly what the best diets are, or what in our environment really triggers obesity and diabetes.

Taubes points out that in 1960 there were fewer than 1,100 articles on obesity and diabetes published in the U.S., while in 2013 there were over 44,000 such studies. He suggests that the ballooning numbers are due to a dysfunctional research establishment. That is, a lack of reliable unambiguous knowledge about environmental triggers of obesity and diabetes has opened the door to a diversity of opinions on the subject, of hypotheses about cause, cure and prevention.

For example, Taubes points out that the difficulty (primarily because of expense and other practical problems) of performing long-term, well-controlled experiments on human dietary phenomena has forced nutritionists to accept evidence based on observational studies, animal studies, or short-term human data. This situation is fraught with poorly understood confounders. He notes [T]he only relevant fact on which relatively unambiguous data exist to support a consensus is that most of us are surely eating too much of something.

Amen to that, commented ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava. She continued While I haven t always agreed with Mr. Taubes take on nutrition issues in the past, I think that this time he has pointed out some real deficits in nutrition research, and clarified why nutrition advice seems to change so often. Unfortunately, he doesn t suggest an easy fix, so apparently he is saying that when it comes to nutrition advice, let the buyer beware.